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Officials offer apology for woman killed by DPW truck, continue investigation

San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin and community leaders placed flowers at the intersection of Geary and Taylor streets Wednesday afternoon where a woman was fatally struck by a motorist in a city-owned vehicle.

Rui Xai Zhen, 67, of San Francisco, was hit by a truck belonging to the Department of Public Works Sunday morning.

Peskin, who represents District 3 and the neighborhood where Zhen was struck, said:

“On behalf of the City and County of San Francisco I want to apologize. This is a 67-year-old woman who was a healthcare worker who actually took care of other individuals in our neighborhood.”

Zhen marks the second traffic fatality in The City this year. The first traffic fatality also occurred in Peskin’s district at Polk and O’Farrell streets where 80-year-old David Chow was fatally struck by a motorist.

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Director of Transportation Jeffrey Tumlin said Tuesday the agency’s rapid response team went to both sites to investigate and see how traffic safety can be improved in those areas.

Jerold Chinn/SFBay Community and city leaders placed flowers at the corner of Geary and Taylor streets in San Francisco, Calif. on Wednesday, March 4, 2020. The intersection is the site where Rui Xai Zhen, 67, was struck and killed by a Department of Public Works truck the previous Sunday.

At Polk and O’Farrell, Tumlin said they will daylight the south side of the intersection. Daylighting includes moving visual barriers near within 10 feet of crosswalks.

SFMTA staff are still investigating the Sunday crash. At the intersection Zhen was hit, the agency has installed posts and a safety zone to improve drivers’ views of the crosswalk when making a left turn from Taylor Street onto Geary Street.

Queena Chen with Chinatown Chinatown Transportation Research and Improvement Project said she wants to see more enforcement and collaboration with the SFMTA to protect pedestrians, adding that drivers need to be more aware of their surroundings.

Chen said:

“It’s really important that our drivers realize that there are blind spots. Even if you’re an expert driver, you still have to be aware of pedestrians.”

Peskin said police are investigating both pedestrian fatalities, which in the case of Zhen includes inspection of the so-called “black box” inside the DPW vehicle.

Legislation sponsored by board President Norman Yee requires all city vehicles to have tracking devices installed.

Jodie Medeiros, executive director of Walk San Francisco, said in a statement after the deaths of Chow and Zhen:

“SFPD and SFMTA need to put the Tenderloin at the very top of their list of priorities.”

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